Thursday, 27 August 2015

Knut polar bear death riddle solved

By Jonathan Amos
BBC Science Correspondent

Scientists say they can now explain what happened to Knut, the famous polar bear that drowned at Berlin Zoo in 2011.

A new investigation has shown that he had a type of autoimmune inflammation of the brain that is also recognised in humans.

Researchers hope this knowledge can help both human and animal sufferers.

Knut became an international celebrity, after being abandoned by his mother and then hand-raised by a zookeeper.

For a while, he was the most recognisable bear on the planet, with his face featuring regularly on TV and in newspapers, and even on the front cover of an edition of Vanity Fair magazine.

His death was as public as his life. Knut experienced a seizure and collapsed into his enclosure's moat - right in front of the many zoo visitors who had come to see him - and never regained consciousness.

The necropsy established he had encephalitis, a brain inflammation, but the investigating scientists could find no reason for it.

They suspected some kind of infection, however all pathogen screening drew a blank.

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